Archive for category Business Marketing
With every passing month it becomes increasingly important to separate your business from the competition. Gone are the days of copying and undercutting. You have to get out of the commodity business and shout about what differentiates you from the rest.
So, how do you do this or has your mind gone blank with all the Covid uncertainty. This was the subject for discussion by members of the Business Exposure Group at our recent meeting.
One of the big differentiators at the moment are those businesses which pursue the face to face meeting in a Covid safe way. Many larger businesses are following business rules which prohibit meetings and demonstrations etc, but many SME’s are able to take advantage of those businesses on hold, and provide what the customer wants. It’s a great time to steal a march on competitors.
Equally take a look at your current customers, is there a common element among your best customers. Interview them and ask why they choose to work with you, why they stay and why they refer others. Study your competitors to establish what you could do better and what don’t they offer.
Focus less on traditional marketing and more on customer experience. Get personal with your customers, get to know their life story and find out the real reasons why they buy your products. Build a relationship with them so they move from being account number 2367 in your ledger to customers with whom you have a real relationship.
7 months into this Covid pandemic. It is now time to act not react!
How do you provide your buyers with a complete understanding of what you do, what you sell and why your products or services are better than the competition?
Too many businesses are already generating all the leads and prospects they need but are unwittingly losing up to 90% of opportunities to convert them into sales.
As an aide memoire it is important to consider the following:-
- The buyer is more intererested in themselves than you.
- Map your sales process. A step by step process to convert enquiries and leads into sales. Build trust/understand the buyers goals/create certainty that your product meets their needs/ overcome fear of making the wrong decision/officially confirm the sale.
- There is value in trying to convert old and cold prospects. It may be time to approach another prospect in the target company.
- Qualify leads so you don’t waste time. If a prospect isn’t ready to buy don’t give them to the sales team. Provide useful mailshots and wait your time.
- Spend enough time researching the buyer’s needs, then offer the solution to win the sale. It is important to listen and find the solution for the prospect.
- Offer content and information that educates, regular newsletters are the beginning of the process.
- Fish where the big fish are, don’t waste time trying to convince people to buy when they are clearly not interested or ready to commit.
- Establish a no communication deadline to remove redundant prospects from your pipeline.
- Follow up your initial call a few days later asking questions, eg, have you had a chance to go over the information and make a decision? 80% of all significant sales occur only after a minimum of 5 follow ups. Following up will apply pressure and open up dialogue to discover questions and concerns that the prospect may have.
- Have a list of scripted answers readily available for every possible objection/query.
- Remind them that you have a solution that is going to make them more money.
- Don’t adopt a one size fits all approach, target and segment, focus on the best prospects first.
It’s all very obvious but there is tremendous value in reflecting on the above and evaluating your conversion process.
SME’s say marketing is critical to growth, but measuring return on investment (ROI) holds them back. Has it held you back?
This was the question posed to members at our recent Business Exposure Group meeting.
If ROI is difficult to measure for a marketing activity, then don’t do it, was the view of one member. Others felt that they did unplanned marketing activities with no certainty of ROI and not included in the marketing budget. Research shows that businesses that develop and use a marketing plan go on to outperform those that don’t, by an average of 30% and every £1 spent on advertising benefits an SME eight times as much as it would benefit a larger company (Deloitte).
Marketing is important to SME’s but, lack of budget, lack of expertise and time are barriers. Some of our members see marketing as a cost, not an investment in the future, and only 20% of SME’s believe that increased marketing spend will be their path to growth.
However, those businesses which seem to be flying are marketing led. They have the marketing budget at the top of their business agenda – if you are not spending you are not gaining customers!
Tracking where the enquiries are coming from is crucial. It is easier to track ROI from a digital campaign rather than a traditional one. Always ask an enquirer where and how they found out about your business. Is your record keeping system good enough to make sense of where to spend your money? Understanding, ROI is important, but some felt that measuring ROI was futile because most marketing is about creating long term brand recognition.
68% of SME’s say it is difficult to get customers to take action as a result of marketing, questioning how much should be invested.
Consider a ROI formula? ___ROI ____ x 100 as a percentage, so you can work out
whether one medium generates 15% and another 50%, then clearly you know where to invest your money. When you spend £1 on marketing how much should you expect in return? A good return thought by the members was in the region of 5/1.
If a marketing activity can’t be measured perfectly, it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be considered, but don’t throw money across the whole marketing mix without deciding quickly what works and what doesn’t.
All the members concluded that they needed to spend more time on the question of ROI when glibly doing ‘appropriate’ marketing.
In modern business there’s increased competition, crowded markets, lesser product differentiation and flatter sales.
So measuring customer satisfaction is key. It reportedly costs five to eight times as much to get a new customer than to hold onto new ones.
So why not operate a measurement system for customer satisfaction and find out what your customers expect from you?
Firstly, don’t just watch sales volumes or rely on a sales rep determining your customer’s state of mind. Also, don’t just track the frequency of complaints or look at ageing debt.
Implement a survey via mail, e-mail, or over the phone and rate experiences on a weighted scale (1 out of 5 etc.). Ensure to repeat this process to see how your customers experience changes over time.
Consider these factors:
- Who is responsible for implementing a system – sales and marketing.
- Management must champion the initiative.
- Compare your own customer satisfaction with your competitors.
- Engage all employees.
- Inform your customers about the changes made due to the survey. Its important to communicate.
Satisfaction can be based on:-
- Business relationship
- The Service and Product meeting or exceeding customer expectations
Did you know? A 5% increase in loyalty can increase profit by more than 25%.
A very satisfied customer is six times more likely to be loyal than a satisfied customer.
Only 4% of dissatisfied customers actually bother to complain, and on average that same dissatisfied customer is likely to tell nine other people about it.
In comparison, satisfied customers will tell five other people on average about the good treatment they received.
You also need to consider the following:
- Are your products less than advertised?
- Are employees making promises they can’t keep?
- Do you know why customers prefer another brand over yours?
- Do you get customers to compare and contrast?
- What is the technology expectation? – E.G. Mobile phones are constantly evolving.
- Conduct a Customer Satisfaction Survey on a regular basis and look for:
- Overall satisfaction: How satisfied are you with ……
- Loyalty Measure: Would you recommend us to…
- Intention to repurchase: Do you intend to repurchase…
Here are 6 thoughts for putting together a customer satisfaction programme:
- Who should be interviewed? The end user, the manager or the directors or all?
- What should be measured? Put yourself in the customers mind-set – what do they consider important?
- How should the interview be carried out?
- How should satisfaction be measured?
- What should the measurement mean?
- How to use the survey to the greatest effect?
It’s debatable whether these should be anonymous or not.
Another strategy is to identify the best company in your sector and set your benchmark against them.
There are links between customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction as happy employee’s work harder, providing greater customer satisfaction.
If a survey is right for your business, then your customer will in-turn expect positive changes to come from it. Most surveys just sit gathering dust. Be sure to communicate quick wins. The newsletter can be a good starting point and turn your customers into very satisfied customers.
This article was taken from a discussion of the Business Exposure Group.
If you are a Director or business owner and would like to attend one of their informative round-table discussions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Most companies are still motivated to entertain their existing and new customers as a way of nurturing relationships and ultimately boosting profit but many find themselves restricted by budget, time and resources, especially during times of recession. The dilemma facing any business owner wishing to improve their connections in today’s economy is to work out which events or functions are going to bring financial returns to the business and which will be fruitless.
So how do you make corporate entertainment worth the time and expenditure and how do you measure the value it has created?
Entrepreneurs should not automatically dismiss all corporate entertainment experiences as worth it just because they are ‘building’ relationships with either their customers or their employees. A return on investment is essential. For every £1k spent on corporate entertainment, the business should be looking for a return of at least £5k over and above what is already coming in.
Organising corporate functions or events is a good way of cementing relationships, enticing new ones and raising brand awareness but don’t do it on the cheap – it needs to be memorable.
It’s important to set a budget for entertaining and stick to it. Look at individual customers and assess the net profit they contribute to the business and how this can be increased. When it comes to the invitations, get the right balance of new and current customers.
Existing, happy customers can boost the confidence of prospective clients and are likely to say the right things at the event to improve your profile but pick your guests carefully. It’s also important to fill empty spaces with the right people not friends to ensure you maximise your investment so it’s always worth sending out the invites well in advance of an event.
When it comes to holding or attending corporate events don’t just send the sales team – the owner should be present to promote strong, genuine relationships.
Spectator sports are among the most popular corporate events as well as golf days, races, concerts and awards dinners. As with all entertaining, it’s essential to be clear about the objectives which should be strongly linked to long-term corporate goals as this will have an impact on the outcome. But clearly a memorable event will increase your access to a customer over the following months, and then it is up to you to make the most of it.
This article was taken from a discussion at a Business Exposure Group event.
As more and more customers use the internet to access products and services, building a good website has never been more important. Businesses should never underestimate the value of good website design and user-friendly navigation when it comes to building their reputation.
Gone are the days when customers solely relied upon recommendations via word of mouth. In today’s marketplace, many of your customers may never have heard of you until they enter search terms for the service they require into the internet and are led to your website.
As a result, your website is often now the first contact they will make with your company and it needs to be as helpful, striking and informative as possible.
As a business, your website must act as a sales funnel if it is to bring you increased custom and profit. A successful website is a gold mine of information containing powerful, relevant and useful facts which are of benefit to your customers.
It should offer more than a visitor can absorb in one visit and act as a continuing source of advice and guidance. You need great free content – which can spread virally.
Good content attracts larger audiences and creates credibility. This the new marketing expense. Do you know why customers would be interested in your site? Identify the unique benefits you offer and base your written content around these core issues.
Many businesses fall into the trap of using their website as a free promotional tool, advertising themselves and their services to potential customers. The best websites, however, deliver what the visitor wants to read and provides free, genuine advice which makes their lives easier.
A good business website will keep visitors signed in. Many websites have links that take visitors away.
Visibility is key to developing a successful website. Businesses should register with lots of search engines to maximise the chances of being ‘seen’ and fully utilise social media.
How important is SEO in the creation of a website?
While there are still people who search for a tradesman in local directories, most customers nowadays turn to a search engine to provide them with a list of options. Businesses which want to maximise opportunities and attract more customers should aim to enhance their position in a Google search using keywords.
Once you have identified the keywords which are applicable to your industry, use them liberally on your site and preferably in headings. Competition can be very strong when it comes to keywords, especially if your business offers a common product or service, so it is better to find something more specific to your business which will give you a better shot at reaching higher rankings.
Web design – Simplicity is the key
Web design works best when pictures and text state the obvious. Remember, websites are used by your customers and should be constructed in a way that makes their life easier. So that it gives them a good visitor experience.
Good website design provides web-users with instant information. Web users are notoriously impatient and will lose interest with too much text and busy pages.
Businesses should respond to queries quickly and utilise the unique information available for future marketing purposes by gathering visitor data and feedback. This can be sourced through online surveys or newsletter subscriptions.
Using a website optimiser will enable you to ascertain which content on your site users respond to best, to improve your conversion rates. Businesses also have the option of testing different landing pages via pay per click campaigns for the same purpose but in different styles, to see which message works best.
At the end of the day. Stop simply advertising yourself and deliver what your visitors want to read.
Networking has become a vital way of building business relationships and thanks to advances in communication technology, it has never been easier. Face-to-face networking is still the best means of developing genuine and lucrative business contacts, however social networking sites such as LinkedIn ensures that we’re now able to forge instant links with our newly-acquired contacts and do our research as well as secure exposure to an even wider business network.
Networking is not only moving on technologically, it’s also becoming more sophisticated. It’s about being selective with your time and engaging with similar people who can add value to your business.
Both the Entrepreneurs Club and The Business Exposure Group have positioned themselves by putting on events and meetings for people wanting to engage with others in trusted business communities. It goes back to having a few close contacts of quality standing, instead of spreading yourself too thinly and achieving zero relationships.
No matter how experienced you are and however long you’ve been in business, you can always develop and hone your business skills. Discussing strategies and talking through current pressures can save you time and money and give you greater confidence in the way you tackle issues.
We all need to differentiate ourselves – otherwise we just become one of the crowd. That will be the difference between making money and making peanuts.
If we try to follow what was practised 20 or 30 years ago, we will not only lose but will be considered idiots. Who would have thought that business owners would welcome the opportunity to discuss ideas and techniques with each other, to assist in how they run their businesses?
In our parent’s generation it would never have happened. Everyone kept their ideas close to their chests. But today everything is so fast. It’s impossible to be an expert in all areas of business, but with a group of complimentary business owners that risk of isolation is taken away.
The Business Exposure Group has over 120 business owners in this region, collaborating with each other on business strategies and opportunities. It’s not about the features and benefits, it’s about the problems we solve.